And two weeks ago, his 15 years with the Telluride Ski Area paid off when Rogers received the Colorado Ski Country USA award for Ski Patroller of the Year.
Rogers' award was one of many – including Ski Instructor of the Year and Best Snowmaker – that was announced at Ski Country's 46th annual meeting in Boulder. Each year, resort officials nominate one candidate for each category, and the winners are then chosen based on an application letter and an interview.
“It is due in large part to the individuals honored today that Colorado remains the top destination choice for winter vacations,” says Melanie Mills, CSCUSA President and CEO.
Rogers says he is honored to be chosen from a group of talented Telluride ski patrollers, adding that he hasn’t done anything particularly special to earn the award. He just accepts the hard tasks of his job.
“I just come to work with a positive attitude and try to set an example,” Rogers says.
It helps that Rogers has a long-time connection to Telluride; he started visiting and skiing here with his father in 1987. While attending college at Penn State, Rogers would come to Telluride for the summer and work construction. After graduation, he moved to Ophir, working odd jobs for a few years until he found his place with the ski patrol in 1994.
Since then, Rogers has seen the ski patrol grow in size, but it has not lost its family atmosphere.
“I just love it and I respect all the other patrollers,” Rogers says. “They make it a great job to come to.”
It’s not always easy, however. Rogers often has to take car of wrecked skiers and avalanche victims. He recalls one of the more memorable accidents when a woman fell off of a lift because she was having a heart attack. It was just a few weeks after the ski patrol had gotten an Automatic External Defibrillator, and Rogers was able to use the machine and CPR to shock her back to life.
And about once every three years, Rogers and his colleagues have to pull dead bodies out of avalanches. In fact, he got stuck in an avalanche himself in 2001; he and a few other ski patrollers were packing down snow on Bald Mountain when the snow broke about 100 feet above them. Though there were no injuries, it was a rattling experience.
But, most days, Rogers enjoys skiing before the crowds and traipsing around the mountain with his five-year-old dog, Doris, named after the former San Miguel County Clerk Doris Ruffe who died last year (Rogers also owned Doris' grandfather, Solo). Though Rogers is now working with the summer crew on the mountain, maintaining signs and setting up a permanent boundary on Palmyra Peak, come winter he'll be back as ski patrol manager on the weekdays and backcountry skier on the weekends.
Despite his hard work, Rogers knows his fellow ski patrolmen will tease him about the award.
“Yes, I'll probably catch some flak,” he says.